Hoda Abou Jamra

Countries in Southeast Asia have been focusing on improving their healthcare sectors. Over the past decade, large strides have been made to help SE Asians access a higher quality of care. This drive from the public sector is highly commendable and in line with the United Nation’s push toward universal health coverage.

However, healthcare needs in SoutheastAsia are changing at a furious pace. People are living longer, and the elderly population is growing. Also, with greater urbanization, chronic diseases are on the rise. On the other hand, with economic progress, the middle class in SE Asia expects higher-quality healthcare.

Governments cannot improve access to patient-centric quality care alone. What’s needed are public-private partnerships to accelerate the progress towards better access to high-quality healthcare.

Let’s look at 3 key strategies to improve public-private partnerships for Southeast Asia’s  healthcare:


1. Develop an ecosystem with 3 types of players

  • Clinical/Medical partners with the potential to scale
  • Investors who specialize in healthcare for SE Asia
  • Technology partners to develop the right platforms for sustainable and stable growth

2. Establish clear priorities together with the private sector

“What does success mean to you?” — this question must be top of mind when the public sector, investors, clinical partners, and tech companies sit down to discuss the way forward. Each player has its own key stakeholders in mind; success depends on a balance between impact and returns.


3. Focus on sustainable and long-term wins

In the past, public-private partnerships in Asian and SE Asian countries have had to focus on solutions that offered immediate relief to a certain system. For example, top priorities included immunization drives, infectious disease vector control (like mosquitoes), and infant mortality rates. However, with economic and social improvements in the region, now public-private partnerships (PPP models) can and should tackle other issues:

  • The rise in chronic diseases like cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and cancer
  • Improving patient-centricity in long-term care (LTC), Post-Acute Care (PAC), Home care, Eldercare, and more
  • Enhancing Asia-specific personalized medicine with advanced data analytics
  • Improving quality assurance (QA) through accreditation

Benefits extending access to quality healthcare in SE Asia extend far beyond the quality of life for residents.

They can help improve the entire region. A 2022 ADB study shows that if countries invest more than 4.8% of their GDP, they can realize a 1.5% increase in economic growth.

Additionally, having a better healthcare infrastructure can attract an influx of higher quality healthcare professionals, and prevent brain drain. All these components will significantly improve access to care and overall quality and performance of  healthcare systems in the region.